January 27th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Most say worst economic conditions in a lifetime

Washington (CNN) - More than three-quarters of Americans said that the current economic conditions are the worst that they've ever lived through, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, hours before President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address, indicated that 77 percent of the public feels that the rough economic times the country's currently facing are the worst in their lifetime, while 22 percent said they've lived through worse times.

According to the poll, the economy remains the number-one issue on the public's mind, and six in ten Americans said it is extremely important for the president and Congress to deal with the economy this year.

"That's one reason why Barack Obama's State of the Union speech is likely to focus on the economy," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The belief that the economy is extremely important is the same among high-income Americans and low-income Americans. And income does not affect your view of economic conditions - high-income Americans are just as likely as low-income Americans to say that this is the worst economy they have ever lived through."

 Two-thirds of those questioned said that things are going badly in the country today, but that's an improvement over a year ago when 79 percent thought the country was in bad shape

"One bright spot: although most say that the country is in bad shape, three-quarters said things are going well in their personal lives," Holland added.

One in eight think the economy is starting to recover; nearly half think a recovery has not started but that things have stabilized and four in 10 said the country is still in a downturn.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 22-24, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 - CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • Economy
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Maybe those folks haven't lived all that long.

    There have been many periods of downturn, that were just as bad, or nearly as bad.

    People today miss things more, when they don't have them, though, because they have become so spoiled with "stuff".

    January 27, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Dutch the Great

    We'll get through it. First we have to get the Supreme Court to overturn the decision they made last week on campaign financing.

    January 27, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Americans sure are spoiled little brats. If you think this is bad, try living in Buffalo in the 70's when heavy industry went bye-bye. Y'all can't even imagine it unless you were there. But nobody gives a hoot when it's the poor and working class getting reamed. People are just waking up now because they realize that the consumerbot middle class is next. Thanks, rampaging global capitalism. Have a nice day!

    January 27, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Steph

    The worst economic conditions of my lifetime occurred between September 2008 and April 2009. Don't you remember the complete panic and uncertainty. Things are so much better now than they were just a year and a half ago.

    January 27, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    The 22 percent who say they've lived through worse were alive during the Great Depression.

    Yes, these are very tough economic times. Everyone needs to pitch in and help – including the wealthy. Rolling back the GW Bush tax cuts, collecting taxes on the money hidden in Swiss bank accounts and removing the FICA cap on incomes over $90,000 are good places to start.

    January 27, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Once again, 46% of American voters thought McCain had a magic pen.

    January 27, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. citizen AND BELIEVER

    The only way to "EASE" the worries of the American Tax payers would be for there to be a "change at the top."

    The POLITICIANS are NOT listening to those of us that GAVE them their JOBS. GAVE as in VOTED for them. Get the message here?


    January 27, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. diridi

    the worst economic mess created by Bush...Now even schools are removing substitutes...for lack of money...this is where America is...Idiots, GOP thugs, Republican idiots are the main menace...for this mess....this including Idiot...Ronald Reagan...ok....No Obama can do any thing....poor Obama landed in neck deep mess inherited by thugs...GOP....laying off teachers...schools no money...lot of states are broke...already...America dug into troubles...No one is having health care....coverage..what that Massachutes idiot...scott brown does..???You tell me...

    January 27, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. southerncousin

    I know that the retarded ones like to blame Bush, but my read is this started with the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. How come that is never mentioned?

    January 27, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. obama the liar

    this is worse than the Carter years. Far worse except no gas rationing yet..

    January 27, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. Rickster

    And what did you expect when a rank amateur community organizer gets elected into office with virtually no experience. The man is a leftover dope-smoking, radical-admiring hippie who refuses to release any of his historical records(citizenship, college, medical) so, really, we know nothing about him. Oh, except that he is already the worst president ever.

    January 27, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    And the only thing Obama can think of to do about it is spend more of the money we don't have, to be taxed away from people who don't have it either.

    January 27, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Mr. Moderate

    I think this just goes to show how soft this country has become. Yes there are hundreds of thousands of people who are going through tremendous hardship, but unfortunately that's part of the natural cycle and in many cases it was self inflicted with our gotta have it now instant gratification culture.

    I have been fortunate in that this is the first downturn of my working life in which I have kept my job, but I certainly remember as a teenager working at a supermarket in the early 1980s, all the middle age guys bagging groceries with me to try to make ends meet. I still think that downturn was worse.

    January 27, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. WhoCares?

    Americans are just dumb. It took well over 20 years to get to this point and yet they think it can be fixed in a year.

    January 27, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Wayne

    I guess they didn't work in a restaurant during the Regan administration.

    January 27, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Patricia Dickson

    Americans dont see nothing yet the worse is yet to come, because the People don't regard Jehovah God and he is in control now not man if the people would turn from their wicked ways then the Eternal God would for gives us off our sins and heal our land so they can talk all they want and blame the President that not going to help we need to Pray the President is doing is best and we need to stand behind him and have patience and pray but what we do is seeking to devour each other with our lying tongue not to mention the Republicans they can fix everthing and make everything right i wonder why didn't they fix the country when President Bush was in power why they are a bunch of losersthey full of crap back off and give the President a break ok.

    January 27, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. proud mother and sister of soldiers

    The economy should be foremost on Obama's agenda and not spending anymore dollars on pork deals made behind closed doors. Yes, job loss is down but then again, companies are working at barebones staffing. It would be better to access our economy by job gain (not temporary jobs like created by the first stimulus). I would also prefer the WH was honest about our unemployment rate by including those individuals still unemployed and not receiving benefits. It would probably shock individuals who just see the number put out there by the politicians.

    January 27, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. LIP

    The worst economic times ever and instead of the "Buck stops here", tonight we will hear that it is all George W. Bush's fault.
    Poor George..if only the Democrats hadn't controlled congress the last two years of his administration and vowed to take him down and if only Bernanke had done more as requested to alleviate pending problems and if only Barney and Dodd had done something or anything and if only....

    January 27, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. cecilia

    And people are standing in line to blame this all on President Obama.
    they say to Liberals – you cant keep blaming President Bush and I can't understand why you cant hold Bush and his administration accountable –

    If someone broke your nose on Monday, would that person not be responsible for having broken your nose on Tuesday?
    well Bush and Company broke our financial stability and it is still broken and they are still responsible – but President Obama is trying to fix it. It took 8 years to break – think you guys might be willing to give him a little more than a year to fix it

    January 27, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. gt

    ya think,,,, its terrible ,,,

    January 27, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. linda

    Thank you George W. Bush, Dumb Dick Cheney, for destroying
    the United States' economy.

    January 27, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. D.

    Indeed, very bad situation.
    (1) Attempt during Clinton to provide houses to all,
    (2) Bush continue this practice, with help of democrats in congress,
    (3) Greed in the banking community that as expanded beyond boundaries (democrats and republicans alike).
    (4) Ideology-motivated inexperience current president, concentrating on "hot air academic promises" rather than on "actual worries of the typical American family"
    The last 3 cases performed with increased deficit as well (threatening the end of the traditional "American Dream" for our children!)
    What a sad chain of policy mistakes!

    January 27, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Now if only the dems in charge would finally get the message: "It's the economy, stupid!"

    Instead of trying to pass an ill-conceived health care "reform" bill the public didn't want, they should have been concentrating on creating jobs all this time.

    January 27, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Johnny DC

    It's okay, we have Obama to bring us out of the darkness. He is brilliant, and has formulated a plan.

    Step 1: Blame predecessors.
    Step 2: Blame predecessors.
    Step 3: Blame predecessors.

    January 27, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    I'm old enough to remember the gas lines, misery index, and stagflation during the Carter years and the twin recessions of the early Reagan years. In the Carter years, things were going downhill fast. Reagan's first couple of years were very tough, but things were improving.

    The current situation is nuch like the Carter years, and the president is doing NOTHING but making it worse.

    January 27, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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